Saturday, February 9, 2013

Robo Taco (Portland, Oregon)

I refuse to photograph these tacos. Not because they're so horrible to look at, although I'm not keeping much from you. They come on a paper-encrusted tray, with a troubling amount of space between each flat taco. I refuse to out of self-consciousness, not wanting to be one of those people who photograph what they eat. Nausea toward unceasing aestheticism does not stop aesthetically mediated decorum, nor does it stop the internal spewing of judgements that so offend an anti-sensibility sensibility. Note that above I noted that the space between the tacos is troubling. What kind of eaters note such things? What kind of eaters, indeed, take notes? What kind of people are "eaters," when there is nobody who does not eat?

Not the intended patrons of Robo Taco, although certainly the paintings of robots and colorful, presumably taco-producing locales are designed to appeal to someone's sense of cuteness. It is not quite "stoner food," but a category of food at once more general and specific, "post-bar food." With its homey multicolored lights, it is a kind of hospital for the strained aesthetic economies that surround it, bars so dimly lit that they appear to have lost electricity--something meant to magically displace onto its customers. I may have my circutry metaphors crossed, but that's a lot of potential resistance. Just how lively can one become when sufficiently sedated?

The distance between lively and deadened isn't far. It's about a block. Here, there is nothing to appreciate and nitpick. There are no appreciators and nitpickers orchestrating experiences. There is no nuance. Robo Taco has created an ontology of taco. Taco is taco. Meat is meat. Relleno is relleno. Food does not come on the painstakingly composed plates of cuisine, but is made of discrete components. A chile relleno plate does not have a chile relleno, but has chile relleno; it contains beans, rice, and kind of Mexican mash of chopped-up chile rellenos and salsa. It's not difficult to imagine robots in the kitchen.

There is an automatism in eating here, too. When every thing is a proper noun, there is no reason to develop knowledge about any of it. It is consumed like a landmark. Which I presume is as lovely as anything can be sometime after midnight, the waning of alcohol pressing on the back of the skull, the electricity both dead and revealed not to be static, after all. I'll leave the tacos to people with such needs. Robo Taco's place in the local geography is clear, but this is a blog of a wider area and mood. We map a different index, photographing and nitpicking food because we're innocent enough to seek out innocence. We want to eat the taco that does not invite us to wonder if it's the right taco. We at Street Meat Nation are nostalgics.

The Taco: 3/5.
Accoutrement: 4/5.
Other: 3/5, but I speculate: 5/5 if drunk and/or hungover.
Overall: 3/5-4/5.


  1. Wow. I....Isaac, I don't even know what to say. Your deconstruction of the taco experience is everything I could have hoped for.

  2. maybe if i keep posting this kind of crap you'll be more motivated to post your entertaining reviews